By: Amanda Guarragi
Life is all about the choices we make. Whether they are well-thought out, or out of desperation, all of these decisions make an impact. Deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life, at the age of 18, is probably the most stressful situation possible. Majority of teenagers are not thinking about their careers but they are forced to. Some know the path they want to take, and others struggle trying to decide what interests them the most. It is extremely hard. Others are dependent on their family, and some take matters into their own hands, wanting to break free from their sheltered home life. Shiva Baby perfectly displays the mind of a college student and what it feels like to be in their position.
Writer-director Emma Seligman tells a simple story of a college student, named Danielle (Rachel Sennott), who runs into her sugar daddy, at a Jewish funeral service with her parents. The structure of this film is what made this so interesting to watch. Seligman placed key moments throughout the film, and she slowly built up tension quite effortlessly. Every single time we think Danielle may be in the clear, something else would happen, and sends you spiralling with Danielle. The setting; picture a small house, filled with people, all gossiping and chattering away, while you’re trying to think of your next move.
Rachel Sennott is absolutely incredible in this role. She showed such range and knew when to take it to another level. Even though this played out like a typical coming-of-age film, it also doubled as a horror film. Danielle’s secrets swirling around the house, older women gossiping about her being a failure, and her raunchy private life creeping into her perfect family life. What was so impressive about this film was Seligman’s ability to project Danielle’s anxiety so it fills the space around her. Danielle feels it, the people around her add to the anxiety, which then creates this suffocating atmosphere for the viewer.
Shiva Baby is filled with many twists, which are effortlessly placed within the story, to make Danielle’s situation worse. The reason why it doubles as a horror film is because of the disorienting score that accompanies the film. It is not overused, it is subtle, and there are cues to show the beginning of another twist. It is intoxicating, anxiety-inducing, and perfectly written to show how college students struggle with their identity. Truly fantastic work from everyone, your eyes will not leave the screen, and it will put you in trance. Do not miss this film.